Over the weekend, the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) in California used one of its unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to track down a weapon-carrying suspect.
According to a Facebook update from the sheriff’s office, a man with a rifle had broken into the historical buildings at the Point Sur Lighthouse, a National Historic Landmark, on Saturday night and was discovered the next morning by the lighthouse’s docents. He then reportedly ran off, prompting MCSO and California state park rangers to respond.
MCSO then launched its UAS, which was able to spot the suspect on top of a hill. In turn, the rangers were able to reach the suspect, who was then arrested.
“This was a dangerous situation due to the steep terrain and firearm involved, along with the unknown intent of the suspect,” the sheriff’s office says in the Facebook post. “The MCSO drone program is a relatively low-cost resource that supports deputies and other agencies by adding an aspect of awareness from above. In this incident, drone operators worked with rangers in locating the suspect, then provided the best tactical route to reach the suspect. The suspect had put the weapon down and walked away from it before rangers made their way over the mountaintop.”
MCSO notes that its UAS program is funded by the nonprofit Monterey County Sheriff’s Advisory Council (SAC). In August, the SAC announced that its contribution of $15,000 helped MCSO purchase five drones.